New poetry/Onna

Onna Solomon has a new collection out with Press 34. Onna’s poetic reputation is prospering; she recently won the Chad Walsh poetry prize. And the concept underpinning Press 34 is compelling: it’s an art book project which produces 34 hand-crafted copies of each title produce.  Read away:

What It Takes

A man who lost his family
—two kids and a wife—
in a blameless accident.

He knows whatever there is
can’t imagine
how we sustain ourselves,

whatever there is must also be
surprised when we are
consumed by senselessness:

One dark night,
fired with love’s urgent longings,
I went out unseen,

my house being now all stilled.
Slowly his life begins again
though he finds anything

can turn into omen, into hymn:
imagined smell of brewed coffee,
sound of a toilet flushing—

He rises early. He begins to eat again.
He reads the morning paper,
bewildered by the faith

of a woman who saw the Virgin Mary
in a grilled cheese sandwich.
Her vision printed plainly

across the cover page —O delicate touch
that tastes of eternal life

a photo of the sandwich in a Ziploc baggie

held up next to her smiling face—
there is the news, the paper, the faces
manufactured on the page

looking up at him. He imagines
this woman —does she
have a husband and grown children?

Through dulled senses he sips his coffee,
wonders at his idea of her
bowing her head before her sandwich,

her mouth moving over
a common prayer—there in a place
where no one appeared

(Note: Italicized lines taken from “Stanzas of the Soul,” by Saint John of the Cross,
translated by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez.)

About Jeremy Mercer

Jeremy Mercer is an author and translator who lives in in the Luberon with his fiancée, two children, five cats, two chickens, ten fish, and one pregnant dog. He is currently on the market for a cheap horse. More at
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